Every book is entitled "A Novel of Cornwall".
Graham wrote and published the first four novels between 1945 and 1953. Graham himself moved to Cornwall, where the novels are set, when he was 17 and lived there for 40 years. Graham stated that the character of Ross was, in part, based upon a fighter pilot he met on a train during World War II. His wife, Jean, helped him come up with ideas and the character of Demelza Poldark was based on her. Their daughter later stated that Graham "was the author but my mother helped with the details because she was very observant. She saw everything and remembered it all". Following a hiatus, Graham wrote the final novels between 1973 and 2002.
Set in 1783 to 1787, Ross Poldark returns home from the Revolutionary War only to find everyone thought he had died, his father is dead, his estate is derelict and the woman he loves, Elizabeth Chynoweth is engaged to his cousin Francis Poldark. When he decides to salvage the family's mining expedition, he meets Demelza Carne, a miner's daughter, and saves her from a fairground brawl. When he takes her home, he begins to start his life anew.
Set in 1788 to 1790, Demelza Carne, an impoverished miner’s daughter Ross Poldark rescued from a fairground brawl, now happily finds herself his wife. But the events of these turbulent years test their marriage and their love. As Ross launches into a bitter struggle for the right of the mining communities, Demelza’s struggles to adapt to the ways of the higher society (and her husband). When tragedy strikes and sows the seeds of an enduring rivalry between Ross and George Warleggan, Demelza tries to bridge their differences before they destroy her and her husband’s chance at happiness.
Demelza and Ross get through the first few years of their turbulent marriage and face many trials for their love. With the birth of their first child, Julia Grace Poldark, a great joy is brought to their lives but tragedy soon strikes.
Set in 1790 to 1791, Ross Poldark faces the darkest hour of his life. Reeling from the tragic death of a loved one, Ross is brought to trial for his involvement in the wrecking of two ships, and despite their stormy marriage, Demelza tries to rally support for her husband, to save him and their family.
But there are enemies in plenty who would be happy to see Ross convicted, not the least of which is George Warleggan whose rivalry between him and with Ross grows ever more intense and threatens to destroy the Poldarks. And into this setting, Jeremy Poldark, Ross and Demelza’s second child is born.
Set in 1792 to 1793, Ross starts a new mining expedition which threatens both his marriage to Demelza and the financial security of their family. When Ross begins to get close to his old love, Elizabeth, Demelza retaliates by spending time with Captain Malcolm McNeil.
The Black Moon
Set in 1794 to 1795, the birth of a child to Elizabeth and George seems to make the rift between the Poldark and Warleggan families worse. When Morwenna Chynoweth, governess to Elizabeth's elder child, grows to love Drake Carne, Demelza's brother, things get worse.
The Four Swans
Set in 1795 to 1797, Ross Poldark - now something of a war hero - seems secure in his hard-won prosperity, but a new dilemma faces him in the sudden infatuation of a young naval officer for his wife Demelza. Four women - the four swans - whose lives are entwined with Ross' go through trying times. For his wife Demelza, his old love Elizabeth, for his friend's new wife Caroline and for the unhappy Morwenna Chynoweth, these are times of stress and conflict.
The Angry Tide
Set in 1798 to 1799, Ross Poldark sits for the borough of Truro as Member of Parliament so his time is divided between London and Cornwall, and his heart divided still about his wife, Demelza. His old feud with George Warleggan is still strong as is the love between Morwenna and Drake, Demelza's brother.
The Stranger from the Sea
Set in 1810 to 1811, Stephen Carrington's arrival in the Poldark household changes all their lives. For Clowance and Jeremy in particular, the children of Ross and Demelza, Stephen's advent is the key to a new world—one of both love and danger.
The Miller's Dance
Set in 1812 to 1813, the Poldark family finds that the new year brings involvement in unexpected ventures. For Ross and Demelza there is some surprising—and worrying—news. And Clowance, newly returned from London, finds that her entanglement with Stephen Carrington brings both joy and heartache.
The Loving Cup
Set in 1813 to 1815, a silver cup lies half-forgotten in a cave, amongst a pile of stolen goods. Yet the tiny vessel and its inscription Amor gignit amorem haunts the lives of the still-feuding Poldark and Warleggan families, as Ross, Demelza and the ambitious and powerful Sir George Warleggan watch their children make the decisions that will shape their destinies. In the closing years of the wars against Napoleon, for Jeremy and Clowance, and for arrogant, cynical Valentine Warleggan, these are troubled and momentous times.
The Twisted Sword
Set in 1815, Demelza believes a new arrival will bring disruption to the domestic contentment she has fought so hard to achieve. For Ross has little option but to accept the summons - and be an "observer" of the French armed forces. But the return of Napoleon brings separation, distrust and danger to the Poldarks and always for Demelza, there is the shadow of the secret she does not even share with Ross.
Set in 1818 to 1820, the final tale of Ross and Demelza; of the wayward Valentine Warleggan, whose existence keeps open the old wounds of the feud between Ross and George; of Bella, the Poldark's youngest daughter, whose precocious talent as a singer is encouraged by an old love, Christopher Havergal, and by a distinguished conductor, who has more in mind than Bella's music; of Clowance, the Poldark's widowed daughter, who considers remarriage to one of two rival suitors; and of a murderer who stalks the villages of west Cornwall.
The novels were critically acclaimed, and have become beloved by many. Graham recognised that "that although literary fiction may be complex, great popular novels have the underlying clarity of a fairytale."
- Many adaptations have been made from the novels, including two BBC series in 1975 and 2015.
- The Poldark Mine in Helston Cornwall was renamed following the success of the novels.
- Graham originally named the main family Polgreen in honour of a friend, but he believed that it didn't sound strong enough so he invented the name Poldark.
- While writing the novels, Graham researched the history of the time they were set in and spent many hours looking into old archives.
Notes and References
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Wikipedia - Winston Graham
- ↑ The Guardian - Is Poldark faithful to its literary origins?
- ↑ The Guardian - Poldark could be a goldmine for Cornwall's tourist trade
- ↑ Margaret Abbett - From Polgreen to Poldark – developing characters
- ↑ Willow and Thatch - Poldark & Historical TV Drama Podcast